It's official: Robert De Niro is in talks to join the cast of the Joker origin movie. Warner Bros. recently made the project official, though it's been in development for the better part of a year. Joaquin Phoenix is on board to play the Clown Prince of Crime, with Martin Scorsese on board as an executive producer. That makes this a very high-profile project already and, if De Niro's deal closes, this movie will cement itself up as one of the most fascinating projects coming our way in 2019.

The casting of Robert De Niro has been rumored for some time now, but hasn't been confirmed until now. We must caution that he's only in talks, though, it sounds like there's a good chance his deal will make. Should he wind up closing the deal, this will be the first time that De Niro has ever starred in a comic book movie during the course of his long career. There's a good chance that his relationship with Martin Scorsese, with the duo having worked together previously on movies like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, as well as the upcoming The Irishman for Netflix, helped make his casting in the Joker movie a possibility.

Plot details are mostly being kept under wraps for the movie so far, which is simply titled Joker, but it will take place in Gotham City during the 1980s. Todd Phillips (The Hangover) is on board to direct, working from a script he co-wrote with Scott Silver (The Fighter). We recently reported that Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) is in talks for the movie as well. Recent Oscar-winner Frances McDormand was being eyed to play The Joker's mom in the movie, but she is said to have passed. In any event, it's clear that Warner Bros. is going for some serious talent.

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Robert De Niro is reportedly going to play a late night television host by the name of Murray Franklin who will be key in turning Joaquin Phoenix from a man named Arthur Fleck into the famed DC villain. Joker is going to take place outside of the continuity already established in the current live-action DC movies, such as Suicide Squad. So Jared Leto hasn't been replaced as The Joker and he's also currently developing his own solo movie that will take place in the interconnected universe, which was recently named Worlds of DC at San Diego Comic-Con.

This Joker origin movie is set to begin production this September and will be working with a relatively small budget of around $55 million. Warner Bros. has given the movie an October 4, 2019, release date. That implies the studio could see some awards potential here and puts it in theaters a little less than a month prior to Wonder Woman 1984. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as more details on the project are made available. This news comes to us courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott